Friday, August 19, 2011

The Book of Judges - The Marriage of Samson

Today we are going to continue on in the book of Judges and in the like of Samson.  We are going to see a bit of his character and personality this week. 
Now Samson went down to Timnah, and saw a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines. So he went up and told his father and mother, saying, "I have seen a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore, get her for me as a wife."  Judges 14:1-2 NKJV
Timnah was a city of the Philistines.  It was not a wholesome city by any stretch.  The probably had a slogan to the effect of "What happens in Timnah, stays in Timnah."  It was not a place where Samson should have been.  It aroused his lusts and desires and in that he fell for a Philistine woman. 
Then his father and mother said to him, "[Is there] no woman among the daughters of your brethren, or among all my people, that you must go and get a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?" And Samson said to his father, "Get her for me, for she pleases me well."   Judges 14:3 NKJV
His parents try to talk some sense into him.  They are telling him that what he is doing is not right and that there must be a woman from his own people who is good enough him.  Samson, being the stubborn young man that he has become rejects their advice and sends them for this Philistine woman.
But his father and mother did not know that it was of the LORD--that He was seeking an occasion to move against the Philistines. For at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel.   Judges 14:4 NKJV
This should raise some eyebrows.  God did tell the Israelites not to marry anyone outside the faith yet the Bible says this is of God.  Has God broken His own rule?  Has God tempted Samson to sin?  Of course, He did not.  God did not cause Samson to go to Timnah.  God did not cause Samson the lust he had for the Philistine woman.  God is merely giving Samson over to his own desires and He is going to use it for His greater purpose.  We must never confuse God allowing or using things as God condoning those things.  God will bring His plan to fruition in spite of our actions, not because of our actions.  Samson is responsible for his own sin and it will ultimately cost him, but God is using that sin for His greater purposes. 
So Samson went down to Timnah with his father and mother, and came to the vineyards of Timnah. Now [to his] surprise, a young lion [came] roaring against him. And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion apart as one would have torn apart a young goat, though [he had] nothing in his hand. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done.  Judges 14:5-6 NKJV
Now we see the legendary strength of Samson.  A young lion came roaring out at Samson and he tore the lion apart with his bare hands.  That is strong.  I know I can't do that and I doubt anyone else can either. 
Then he went down and talked with the woman; and she pleased Samson well. After some time, when he returned to get her, he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion. And behold, a swarm of bees and honey [were] in the carcass of the lion. He took some of it in his hands and went along, eating. When he came to his father and mother, he gave [some] to them, and they also ate. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey out of the carcass of the lion.  Judges 14:7-9 NKJV
And so he went and was engaged to the woman. As was the custom of the time, he returned sometime later.  He remembered the lion he had torn apart and took a moment to review his handiwork.  Some time had passed so the lion was now a rotting carcass but in the midst of that rotting carcass some bees had built a hive.  The Bible kind of brushes over this, but he put his hand in a swarm of bees and got himself some honey.  I would not put my hand in a swarm of bees, especially around their nest where they are extra protective.  Samson was a tough guy.  He enjoyed the honey and shared it with his parents.  Still, he never told them about the lion he had killed nor where he had gotten the honey from.
So his father went down to the woman. And Samson gave a feast there, for young men used to do so. And it happened, when they saw him, that they brought thirty companions to be with him. Then Samson said to them, "Let me pose a riddle to you. If you can correctly solve and explain it to me within the seven days of the feast, then I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothing.  But if you cannot explain [it] to me, then you shall give me thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothing." And they said to him, "Pose your riddle, that we may hear it." So he said to them: "Out of the eater came something to eat, And out of the strong came something sweet." Now for three days they could not explain the riddle.  Judges 14:10-14 NKJV
As was the custom, he had a feast for himself and thirty groomsman were brought to him to be his "friends" for the celebration.  In the spirit of the party, Samson poses a challenge to them to solve a riddle.  To make it more interesting, he makes a bet with them on whether or not they can solve it.  It probably seemed like a great deal to the companions.  They would be out one change of clothing each but Samson would be out thirty.  They accepted the bet and he posed his riddle.  Of course, we know about the lion so the riddle is kind of easy.  Not knowing about the riddle, it would be a complete guess. 
But it came to pass on the seventh day that they said to Samson's wife, "Entice your husband, that he may explain the riddle to us, or else we will burn you and your father's house with fire. Have you invited us in order to take what is ours? [Is that] not [so]?" Then Samson's wife wept on him, and said, "You only hate me! You do not love me! You have posed a riddle to the sons of my people, but you have not explained [it] to me." And he said to her, "Look, I have not explained [it] to my father or my mother; so should I explain [it] to you?" Now she had wept on him the seven days while their feast lasted. And it happened on the seventh day that he told her, because she pressed him so much. Then she explained the riddle to the sons of her people.  Judges 14:15-17 NKJV
Women will be Samson's downfall and we see the beginnings of that now.  What is almost amusing about this passage is that the "If you really love me" routine was practiced even in Biblical times.  Everything really does stay the same!  The companions of Samson's wife pressure her into getting the answer from her husband and she spends the next week showing just how "unloved" she was by Samson for not telling her the answer to the riddle.  Finally, he gives in.
So the men of the city said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down: "What [is] sweeter than honey? And what [is] stronger than a lion?" And he said to them: "If you had not plowed with my heifer, You would not have solved my riddle!" Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily, and he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of their men, took their apparel, and gave the changes [of clothing] to those who had explained the riddle. So his anger was aroused, and he went back up to his father's house. And Samson's wife was [given] to his companion, who had been his best man.  Judges 14:18-20 NKJV
Samson did not have his reputation yet and so the people of the city thought they had won.  They give Samson the answer to the riddle and immediately Samson figures out how his wife and deceived him and how they had put her up to it.  They wanted their thirty changes of clothing and so Samson provided them.  He did so by killing thirty Philistines in another city and bringing them their clothes.  Assuming he killed them before he undressed them, those clothes must have been quite a warning.  Samson returned home angry and the enmity between Samson and the Philistines was now firmly established. 
 
There are of course several lessons to take from what we studied today.  The one I want to focus on is the consequence of sin.  God has used sin in my life as I am sure He has in your life too.  The most dangerous thing we can take from that is reasoning that because God used our sin, God condones our sin.  That is never ever the case.  Even my salvation was attained through something that should not have been.  I was saved by the witness of the family of a Christian girlfriend.  She never should have dated me, yet she did and I was saved through it.  Does that mean that God approved of how that relationship happened?  Of course He did not.  God merely acted in spite of our actions and not because of them.  Taking that logic and applying it to say that therefore it should be right for Christian to date unbelievers is ludicrous.  That would be like saying that if a Christian commits murder and is sent to prison and God gets a hold of him and uses him in prison that murder should then be right because God used it in that case.  We can not begin to fathom the mind of God.  Sin always bears a consequence because God promises to chastise His children.  Even if God uses the sin, it does not mean that the sin will not hurt you in the end.  If you do sin and for whatever reason God uses that sin, do not take that as a moment of pride or a moment of justification, but recognize it as a moment of the amazing grace of God. 
Praise the LORD! Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for [He is] good! For His mercy [endures] forever. Psalm 106:1 NKJV

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